The most wonderful time of the year.

No, this isn’t a post about getting excited too early for Christmas. Although I am.  Fall is my FAVORITE time of the year.  Next to summer and spring.  All 3 are tied.  Winter is dead last, except for Christmas.  I love everything that comes with fall- the colors, the clothes, the nail polish (helllllo dark and neutral, goodbye bright and neon!), the excitement of harvest, hot coffee, cool outdoor runs, appreciating every nice day because it could be our last one… The thing I do not love about fall is knowing what’s next. And the threat of frost.

Our garden was so rewarding this year.  Some things totally failed, but for the most part we got TONS of great stuff from it.  20140801_093619

This picture was taken early summer- by the end those zinnas were HUGE and lined the entire garden.  Now, however, the garden is much sadder. All that is left behind is the brussel sprouts, broccoli, and some garlic sprouts that came out of nowhere (I planted them in the spring, half grew and half didn’t. Now the other half is sprouting. Totally baffled). The only zinnias left are the ones around the sprouts, just to provide a little protection from cold winds.  And those are dead.

But, then there’s this stuff that makes my heart warm again:

 

 

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The Real Mommy Brain

I always thought of myself as a fairly emotionally aware person (read- cries easily, gets feelings hurt a lot, was always “the sensitive one”) but having kids has made me realize that I had no idea what emotions were. I thought being pregnant was emotionally tough, but having these little animals out in the real world brings on so much more.  Here’s a look inside what I felt today.

FEAR None of us know what we’re doing. Is that fever serious? Do I let it run its course? Do my kids watch too much TV/eat too much processed food/ eat too many carbs/ have too much exposure to chemicals in cleaning products/ have too much exposure to GMOs/ not play outside enough… this one never ends.

HAPPINESS I can’t even begin this one. The smiles, laughs, ornery looks. Watching them play together (and even watching them fight, sometimes). Seeing them share food. Seeing them steal each other’s food.  Hearing the hilarious things my 3 year old says. Seeing the personalities coming out in the babies. All of the things.

ANGER Just. Follow. Directions.  Stop pushing your brother down.  Stop pulling your sister’s hair! Why did you do that?

FRUSTRATION See above.

GUILT Guilt guilt guilt guilt. Sometimes I go to bed and think I am a total jerk mom.  I think about what ticked me off, how I reacted, and am so sad.

CRAZINESS 3 kids in under 2 years.  ‘Nuff said.

GRATEFUL 3 healthy, beautiful kids. Who usually get along.

LOVE beyond love. Love so strong sometimes I just want to squeeze them so hard their heads pop off.

PAIN Goodbye former idea of what pain is. Hello childbirth.

EXHAUSTION I’m too tired to elaborate.

DISCOMFORT Carrying twins.  That’s 2 babies, twice the hormones, twice the size (I felt like it at least).  Heart burn.  Sciatic pain. Morning sickness alllll day long for 7 months. Waking up a million times each night because you have to readjust (which is like a semi turning around in an alley), because you have to pee, because you have heart burn, because you’re starving, because your toddler woke you up, because… you don’t know why but you’re wide awake!

FEAR Every time I leave the kids I am certain I’m never going to see them again.  Every. Time.

EMBARRASSMENT Oh your kid can identify letters of the alphabet and give an example of a word that starts with that letter? Yeah, my kid just said “eleventeen” and then picked his nose.

PRIDE Uh yeah, my kid said “eleventeen!” That’s awesome!

J! 3!

We celebrated J turing THREE a few weeks ago!  It’s still hard to believe.  Proof that the days may be long but the times goes so. fast.

We hung balloons on streamers the night before so this is what he woke up to (we didn’t get pics in the morning because he got up at 5, ran to our room, and proclaimed that he was just “so suscited!!!!!!!” so these are after his nap):

There was some brotherly reading:

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And of course the Special Day plate with a BDay cinnamon roll:DSC_0073Now you know I love me a good big party. But this summer has been SO busy! And we’ve been traveling a lot more than normal, so I knew I just didn’t have it in me to try and make the garage look not like a garage. So we did the easy thing. We took the family out to eat.  I have to say, it was nice to have the party at the restaurant and not have a bunch of set-up or clean up to deal with! We went to Jethro’s in Ankeny and got part of the little party room. As soon as he had the cupcake J bolted outside with the rest of the kids to play. L wore a dress for the occasion.

We really try to limit the “stuff” J has as far as toys, etc.  The first 2 years we didn’t get him gifts at all- beyond having the party and everyone over to celebrate, I didn’t think it was necessary.  But three is such a fun age for gifts. Seriously- he’d open one, pull out the card and exclaim “A CARD!!!” like it’s all he’d ever wanted.  So I knew we wanted to get him something, but wanted to make it special.  I’ve had these 2 IKEA bedside tables kicking around the house for a few months, and decided to make them into a play kitchen for him. I’m terrible at “before” pictures, so just imagine this, but several years and other paint colors later (mine was slightly different and didn’t have the top drawer- they were just open):

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So I got to work a few weeks early (shocker!) and tore it apart.  Like I said- ours had been painted several times so I had to re-prime and re-paint white.  I used a jig saw to cut out the center of the door, took out the existing hardware, filled those holes and reattached the door to the bottom (instead of the side) so it would open like an oven.  I painted the inside black and toyed with making a rack, but didn’t do it (yet). The one on the left is lined with fabric I had laying around and some scrapbook paper also laying around from a previous project. I painted cork coasters black to be burners, craft door handles red to be like the Wolf knobs (and connected them loosely with screws so they’ll stay in but will turn), and added a handle to the “door.” I was going to make the second stand have a sink, but decided to just have workspace for him instead. He needed somewhere for his Keurig… For the top, I just used a piece of pre-cut plywood and covered it with paint samples to create a tiled backsplash look. The shelf was a Hobby Lobby purchase- it was a naked oak that I stained to match our house’s woodwork, added some pretty paper and a family photo.  I am still looking for some fun vintagey accessories that are kid-safe and something to put in the open area on the left.  But so far all 3 kids have had a great time playing with it! I bought him fruits & veggies and my MIL bought a TON of other things, including a personalized chef coat & hat.

 

 

And yes, that is painter’s tape holding the door up.  Big mistake on my part… I went for the pretty gold hinges instead of going for the hinges that would actually hold the door up when it was closed.  Oops.  We’ve found some that will work, and until then I just have them keep it closed. DSC_0070

What’s for Dinner?

Among the millions of things reminding me daily that I don’t know what the H I’m doing here in this whole parenting role is meal planning.  More honestly- meal preparation.  Planning is easy, I mean we all have Pinterest, right? It’s the follow through and real time cooking that gets me four times a day seven days a week.  If it was just Seth & I, that’s no problem! We can skip dinner, eat at 8pm, or have popcorn and call it good.  But these little humans I’m trying to sustain seem to need more nutrition on a schedule. With the help of Pinterest I’ve gotten pretty good at planning meals for the week.  I have a good grocery routine- HyVee has 10% off all organic & Health Market items on Wednesdays, plus that’s trash day so Tuesday evening I clean out the fridge and can assess what we need to use up, need to toss, and plan from there.  I even have a spreadsheet for my groceries organized by location in the store with a convenient little check box next to the item. I’ve also (kinda) mastered the make-ahead thing so when the kids are about to eat their arms I can just do a few final steps and voila! Dinner is served!

But then they won’t eat it. Because it’s not PBJ.  Or as J calls it: “peanut butter and jelly and sammich!” I don’t know where I went wrong with him.  He used to eat so well! He loved roasted veggies and all these wonderful healthy meals.  But now all he wants is peanut butter and jelly and sammich.  And now with L’s allergies, it’s making it a lot harder to find food that they all can eat and all will eat.  The popular items that are rotated on a regular basis are: PBJ, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, mac & cheese, quesadillas.  I do try to pack in as much nutrition to these as I can- the PBJ is actually almond butter and we use whole wheat bread. The chicken nuggets are sometimes grilled chicken that I cut up into “nuggets” and serve with ketchup.  And sometimes they’re really chicken nuggets.  Those, the fish sticks, and the mac & cheese are all organic- so totally healthy, right?? And of course there’s the fruit.  My kids would eat nothing but fruit if we let them. Today at lunch they went through an entire box of blueberries.  We buy 4lbs of strawberries, 10 bananas, 3 boxes of blueberries, and 3-4 bags of grapes every week.  And we’re out by Wednesday!  We use the fruit as an incentive with the kids on finishing their meals (=bribe).  I’m always really proud when J asks for more blueberries and I say “Eat the rest of your over-processed fake cheese product and white pasta first!” before having more fruit…. good parenting there. But it’s ORGANIC over-processed fake cheese product, right?? They all also love yogurt, but spoon feeding the twins is hard because they aren’t terribly patient when its the other’s turn.  Sweet potatoes are always a hit, sometimes green beans, always corn (but does that really even have nutritional value??).  Yesterday I tried to make “turkey sushi” but eating raw turkey was gross.  Just kidding. I rolled up a piece of cheddar in a slice of deli turkey and cut it up like sushi in hopes that it would be “fun” for the kids to eat.  It kind of worked!  I’ll def try that again and start adding in sneaky healthy things.

I’m on the fence about organic produce still… but we usually get the regular stuff.  That’s another post.

Anyway.

So what do you guys do?? I keep thinking it’s a phase and my healthy eater will be back!  Also, I wonder at what age is it OK to send them to bed hungry if they won’t eat their food? Obviously the twins aren’t going to go hungry- simmer down.  Just wondering when that can come into play.

DSC_0070 Blueberry pancakes for every meal please!

Family Vacation

 

 

Against our better judgement, we took a family vacation to Door Co, WI (Sister Bay to be precise).  This is an annual tradition for us that halted once the twins arrived last summer.  We decided to reinstate the tradition and made a go of it.  It was fine- only 10 hours (each way) in a minivan with 3 kids under 3.  What could go wrong?

We started the trek around 8am and made it to Dubuque before needing to stop. We let the kids play at a park and then had lunch at a place I’ve been to before with my mom and sister- Vinny Vannuchi’s. It’s so good! Then we hit the road and stopped, oh, 500 more times? Here’s the thing- a 2 year old doesn’t quite understand “this is the last time we’re going to stop for a while, do you need to potty?”  At that EXACT time, he never did. But within 2 minutes- that’s another story.  But that’s OK, we planned on this being a, let’s say… journey.

We made it to the hotel/resort (Pheasant Park in Sister Bay, we are big fans) around 7:30pm. We had been telling J that we were going on vacation and of course he asked if that meant he got to go swimming which of course it did. So once we got in and settled, even though it was way past bedtime, Seth took him swimming while I got the twins down for bed.  The rest of the trip was awesome- it’s just so beautiful up there! This is the first time we’ve gone over the 4th of July, so it was neat to see some of the special events but overall was SO crowded that I don’t think we’ll do that again.

DSC_0080Don’t be fooled by J’s face.  He was “suscited” the entire time we were up there.

We went to Seth’s cousin’s for the actual 4th- the kids had a blast. So did the adults…

L met someone else her size.  They bonded over eating gravel.

Seth’s aunt & uncle have an orchard in Sister Bay (which is as beautiful as it sounds). J had an awesome time learning how to operate the Gator (“tractor”) and picking berries.

We went to an FFA fundraiser called the “dairy breakfast” which is a huge deal up there. I heard people talking about it all over town the rest of the day!  It  was really neat- we ate breakfast and ice cream (we were on vacation…), petted llamas & other farm animals, toured a huge dairy operation (J asked some great questions such as “Are the cows going to roll over us? Can I drive the tractor? Do the cows want ice cream? Why does that cow have a ring in his nose? Can I drive the tractor? What is that sand pile for? Can I drive the tractor?”), and danced to the blue grass band.

And, of course we hit up the beach.  Notice there are no other kids there and we have on jackets.  It was chilly and overcast the day we went (it was the last day we were there) but I really wanted J to see a beach and he had a blast! So did C.  L… she was leery.

Seriously- look at her face.  Hilarious.

 

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We were sad when the trip came to an end, even more sad thinking about another 10 hours in the mini, but we are looking forward to next summer!